Monday, October 20, 2003

My God can Kick Your God's Ass
(and Other Great Literary Themes)

The Slaktivist is doing a righteous analysis of the Left Behind Series. I highly recommend it (the Slaktivistís Analysis, not the Series, which I wouldnít recommend for all the books in the Library of Congress, for reasons Iíll get to in a minute).

Now, it will come as no surprise to my regular readers when I say that I am not a Christian. Iím not anything, in particular, other than a human being who is deeply concerned about the state of affairs on our planet. And to be perfectly honest, the Left Behind Series scares me. Not because of the daffy and questionable theology or the wooden writing, or Le Hay and Jenkinís prolific reliance on clichÈs. What scares me about the Left Behind Series is its popularity.

Now, Iíve come to terms with the wild popularity of bad writing in general. Stephen King and I have reconciled our differences and over a few drinks this past summer at his cabin, I even conceded that he is a good story teller, even if his stories arenít the most original and lack that ineffable poetic quality that I look for in quality writing. But hay, the guyís got like thirty eight children to support and he make shis living as a writer, which I envy.

But the LB Series is different. They arenít well told. Theyíre really awfully told. I mean it. Just dreadful. And I have a soft spot for some pretty stiffly written Science Fiction books, like Edgar Rice Burroughsí Warlord of Mars books.

But for some unfathomable reason, the LB series is wildly popular and this popularity is almost exclusively centered amongst semi-illiterate people whose only other reading consists of poorly translated versions of the Bible. People who take these thinly veiled Hellfire and Brimstone Sermons as a detailed guideline of what actually, really and truly WILL HAPPEN, youíd better believe it, Next Tuesday after Lunch.

This is what scares me.

Somewhere along the line, they forgot what we all learned in our Middle School English class concerning metaphor and simile, poetic image and fable. And by They, Iím referring to Jerry B. Jenkins and Timothy Le Hay. Sure, their most die hard fans have only a tenuous grasp on the nuances of literary symbolism as well but thatís not the authorís fault. That blame falls squarely on the heads of the ineffectual teachers and poor education system of our country.

And no, Iím not adding any fuel to the ìClass Warfareî Meme. There are wealthy as well as poor people who believe this Bullshit. Corporate leaders and waitresses. Truck drivers and, unfortunately, Presidents of the United States. And that is the real scary idea: Nuclear powered Evangelicals.


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